Saturday, December 22, 2012


tl;dr? song link here: Liara (mp3)

I just finished Mass Effect 3 on our Xbox a few days ago. For the uninitiated, it's a sci-fi role playing game with combat elements that involves saving the galaxy from genocidal invaders, putting together a team in the course of the game to do so. The first two games establish the nature of the threat to the galaxy and are where most of the new characters are introduced, while the third one deals with actually fighting off the invasion.  The game trilogy has fans as devoted as any movie or book series, and at least touches on deep moral and ethical questions, even if it doesn't always resolve them. 

As with many games of this type, the relationships between characters develop with time (and with how you treat them). Many of the characters are "romanceable", several to players of either gender. This is true even though relatively few of the romanceable characters are human. Both of these facts were somewhat controversial when the first installment of the game came out, and both centered on an alien character of the asari race named Liara-- the only non-human romanceable character in Mass Effect 1, and the only one romanceable by either gender.   

I've been using the same character (Mordechai Shepard) for all three games, importing him from one game to the next as each installment became available. While the ending was...not what I was quite expecting, I'm thinking I may start again from the beginning in 2013 and play through all of them without having to wait for years in between. The one major change I imagine making in the next playthrough will be romancing Liara. She's not the favorite character of the fanbase (that crown probably belongs to Garrus, though Tali has a strong contingent), but certainly some of the sweetest moments in the series involved her. While other romances and squadmates from the first installments may lose faith in you or get drawn off on their own obligations, Liara never does.

So, even though I'm 43 years old, I wrote a song for a blue alien character in an Xbox game. It's just me and a guitar, basically just a demo.  It may never get more developed or better performed than this, but after spending hundreds of hours with her over the course of 5 years or so, maybe I'll rerecord it at some point. :)

Here it is:  Liara (mp3)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Live at AGU!

Howdy from groovy, rocking San Francisco. I'm here for the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting, one of the major annual gatherings of planetary scientists (along with, in this case. oceanographers, atmospheric scientists, geodesy people, geophysicists, and all the other disciplines that comprise earth science).  It's a giant meeting, with something like 20-30,000 attendees.

This year for the first time, they held an Open Mic Night. We had a great turnout both from performers and the audience perspective.  Naturally, I couldn't resist signing up.  I managed to whip through two songs in my 5 minutes: OBAFGKM and the Planetary Blues (which was a slight reworking of the LPSC Blues, which itself was a reworking of the LPL Blues).

The crowd, who were mostly geologists, didn't get the whole Oh Be A Fine Girl Kiss Me (Right Now Smack) reference, though they were appreciative.  All in all, it was a very fun night, which led into the rest of a fun evening with old friends. I'd particularly like to thank Luke and Barbara for showing up!

They were sporadically videotaping the event. I have no idea if I was recorded for the official video.  I did get a recording of myself using my phone. The sound is heavily dominated by my guitar (the wonderful Washburn Rover), and my voice is a bit buried, but that may be for the best.  And, after all, that's what this blog is for.

So with no further ado, here's my two song set at the AGU Open Mic Night!

(And with only additional ado, here's my link to the blog post on space songs I've done, including OBAFGKM yet again: link